What Price Success?
I appreciate the effort Mr. Clifford took to present both sides of the argument about the transplanting of Canadian wolves into Yellowstone. Some may consider it a "howling success," but I consider it a tragedy—for the stockmen, for the game herds that have never had to deal with wolf packs before, even for pet owners. But most of all it has been a tragedy for the wolves. They were chased and darted in their own domain, transported to a strange land and turned loose to fend for themselves, only to be shot for killing the "wrong" animals. Did people honestly think wild wolves could be trained not to kill the "wrong" animals?
E. A. Johnson
The only place Darwin and Lincoln are equals is in the mind of author Adam Gopnik ["Twin Peaks"]. What a stretch to weave their lives together because they share a birthday. "High peaks [that] look out toward each other"? Total hyperbole.
The Villages, Florida
Your February issue was excellent, and best of all, in my estimation, was Adam Gopnik's thoughtful and eloquent summing-up of Darwin and Lincoln. In my 40 years as a historical editor, I have seldom if ever finished reading an essay with tears in my eyes, as I did this time.
Darwin, deservedly, receives praise ["Thomas Hayden states that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's competing theory of evolution "became a textbook example of shoddy thinking." Obviously, Lamarck got it wrong, but shoddy thinking? This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of his Philosophie Zoologique, the great work that everyone loves to hate. The bad press that he suffered probably originated with the French naturalist Baron Cuvier, who allegedly composed a eulogy on Lamarck's death in 1829 that was so mean-spirited it was not made public until Cuvier himself died in 1832. Its negative spirit lives on, but let's pay heed to Darwin's own sentiment on Lamarck, expressed on the first pages of Origin of the Species: "This justly celebrated naturalist...first did the eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all change in the organic, as well as in the inorganic world, being the result of law, and not of miraculous interposition."
W. Reuben Kaufman
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Family Of Man?
I'm grimly amused that the photograph featured in "Special Delivery," which shows the photographer's newly delivered son, was selected for inclusion in the 1955 Family of Man exhibition and was later selected to be carried aboard the Voyager spacecraft representing, simply, "Birth." This photograph offers an image of birth in which a male obstetrician appears to have conjured a human infant out of nothing. The woman who has carried it for nine months, labored for hours and finally forced it out of her body is nowhere to be seen. Imagine the astonishment of putative space aliens who glimpse the Voyager payload and later visit our planet and discover how it is really done.
Karen E. Murray
I was indeed amazed by the University of Sussex study that demonstrated a horse can recognize a herdmate's neigh ["Will James (Horses I've Known) and Margaret Cabell Self (The Nature of the Horse).
Berkshire, New York
A rancher states that wolves that "misbehave" may be killed ["Howling Success"]. But wolves neither behave nor misbehave—they try to survive wherever they happen to be. Wolves have a rightful place in the Rockies. Ranchers who graze their cattle on public land should accept some losses in return.